Local manufacturer inks contract with Toronto schools to provide air purifiers for every classroom

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — These were the sights and sounds of Austin Air Systems last year: a 24-hour cacophony in Buffalo’s industrial zone, churning out some of the most sophisticated air purifiers in the world. And their demand stretched just as far.

In fact, by the end of this year, Austin Air will have sold more than 125,000 of these purifiers, thanks in part to large businesses and school districts learning about how they’re built, and their effectiveness.

“We have HEPA, which has been recommended by the WHO and the CDC for the reduction of COVID aerosols in the air,” said Lauren McMillan, president of Austin Air Systems. “But we also have carbon in our filters. Every filter that we produce has 15 lbs. of carbon.”

McMillan says the dual filters removes gasses, endotoxins, volatile organic compounds and, yes droplets that contain viruses, from the air.

“All the things that affect the respiratory system and make you get sicker when you get sick,” she said.

Erie County’s Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein addressed the importance of air ventilation during the county’s announcement of back-to-school guidelines on Monday — urging districts to take additional steps to protect students and staff.

“Ventilation is a very powerful, non-pharmaceutical intervention that I think in WNY in the cold climate we haven’t really taken advantage of enough. But it is very powerful to prevent COVID-19 transmission,” Burstein said.

Earlier this month, the Toronto District School Board recognized the purifier’s effectiveness, and ordered one for every room in every building — system wide. Right now, that’s a contract for 17,000 purifiers. And with surrounding districts, Austin Air could be shipping more than 25,000 up north by the end of the year.

“It’s the largest school district in Canada,” McMillan said. “They’ve made this decision, they’re putting these in every classroom. They’ve made this commitment, and we’re waiting for some of the schools around here to do the same.”

So far locally, McMillan says, Grand Island and Amherst are the only districts to act on purifiers from Austin Air. Grand Island schools have one every classroom; Amherst has a contract for up to 300.

It’s a much cheaper — an often more effective — option than replacing an entire HVAC system, especially in older buildings, McMillan says.

“It’s also something that you can see, so I think it provides peace of mind to patrons, employees, schools included, teachers, staff, faculty, students, parents. You can see it,” McMillan said. “You can’t see an HVAC upgrade, you don’t know if it happened or not. So when this is in the room, you know it’s working.”

Austin Air is also continuing to ramp up their workforce, and has plenty of openings at all levels of production.

They also start at $17 an hour, with benefits and vacation.

If you’re interested in applying, click here.

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